The two ‘core’ ethical theories covered in class that I started to assess are the categorical imperative and utilitarianism, both of which offer an approach to decision making in the context of social and interpersonal relationships. In this with in depth understanding of both that Kantian ethics is much easily appreciated than the ethics of utilitarianism as Kantian ethics apply to everyone yet both ethical approaches lead to faults. Utilitarianism is the moral theory that brings upon the greatest happiness.
This theory illustrates that right actions as said to be right as they endorse happiness to someone or a group of people whereas wrong as they uphold unhappiness. Kantian ethics on the other hand puts a persons benefit before the greater good, that is people never should be used as means only but means to an end. Both Kant’s ethics and Utilitarianism greatly analogize between each other as Kant is deontological which means that someone ought to do things because they are right, as it is duty and that in itself makes it right.
On the other hand Utilitarianism is based on consequence as someone should act to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism does not care if the greatest good/benefit is brought with someone’s manipulation, lies or coercion. Kant’s ethical would disagree with this completely as If someone lies then it becomes universal law that everyone would have the right to do the same thing.
Ethical implication arise from Kant’s ethics even if this in my opinion is a more logical means that a person should consider in ethical decision making. Suppose for example you would lose your friends for telling the truth in a given situation, Kant’s ethics says you shouldn’t lie what so ever because it is you duty not to do so would bring unhappiness and here utilitarianism would differ completely.
Another situation where Kant’s ethics would coincide with itself is for example if a woman was trying to hide from a guy that was trying to kill her and you decided to help that woman by letting her stay in your house, few hours later the guy trying to kill that woman come knocking on your door asking about her whereabouts. Here with Kant’s ethics you can’t lie as it is your duty not to and it is also your duty to protect that woman you made a promise to earlier, in this situation one action must be chosen and this shows a major fault in Kant’s ethics.
Utilitarianism has its benefits but requires much more effort to do than Kant’s ethics. There are two classical types of utilitarianism, which are act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is right only if the result of good is just as much or more than any other available substitute. Rule utilitarianism states that an act is right if the rule itself acceptance would lead to a greater utility for society that any other substitute then that act is right.
The strength of utilitarianism comes in the fact of it offering a system that is absolute, giving us a potential solution to every situation faced. The second strength is that is seems to grasp the sense of morality even though the actions are come with deceitful like lying means it is for the greater good, uplifting the suffering in this world. Utilitarianism has its objections and can be problematic as different people have different thought on what happiness is and what pleasure is.
One of the problems that arise from Utilitarianism is the no rest objection, for example if I wanted to sleep or go to the movies at those moments I could be trying to help poor people or saving the environment to promote more utility. Having my salary should mostly go into helping others as this brings upon the greatest good but as you see this theory does not make sense to why I shouldn’t make myself happy. Trying to help all the time with no rest becomes too demanding and this theory fails understand different obligations making utilitarianism a false doctrine to many.